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-   -   HDTV Wonder Discussion (http://www.rage3d.com/board/showthread.php?t=33765673)

Sulik Jun 22, 2004 02:18 AM

HDTV Wonder preview
At Anandtech:


EMunEeE Jun 22, 2004 07:49 AM

ATI HDTV Wonder Review @ ET


If you're a TV junkie, then HDTV is your ultimate fix.

With its heftier processing requirements, HDTV seems like a natural for PCs, but it's been somewhat slow to roll out. Companies like MyHD and Hauppauge have had HDTV cards on the market for some time, though the available off-the-air (OTA) content still varies in availability, depending on both location and time of day. Still, the trend is towards more HDTV programming on the airwaves and ATI has a solution for home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts to bring high-definition goodness into the mix.

With the HDTV Wonder, ATI was looking to raise the bar and drop the price in the PCI HDTV tuner card market. Has it succeeded on both counts? Turn the page and find out.

doctj Jun 22, 2004 01:16 PM

This is the best review out there. Seems as if the software needs a few revisions before I'll make the plunge.

SciDoctor Jun 22, 2004 01:51 PM

Moved to sticky .

Please use sticky for all discussion on the HDTV and reviews etc.

(The older thread was not suitable as it was more speculative )

fanbanlo Jun 22, 2004 05:39 PM

I am happy to see ATI providing On-Demand feature outside of AIW. However, the price of HDTVWonder is still quite expensive. Especially, you generally need at least 3 to 6 more MMC release to have all the feature implemented perfectly

Liuke Jun 23, 2004 12:03 AM

It's looking pretty good though they have some kinks to work out.

Not sure if I'd bite at about $200. I will admit that's much cheaper than buying a whole HDTV though. It just needs a bit more polish that can hopefully be fixed via software. Acccording to Anandtech, it looks like it always run in time-shifting mode which I don't like. I couldn't confirm that in Extremetech’s review though. It would also be nice if they implemented some EPG specific to the HDTV programs and combined the regular TV app w/ the new DTV app instead of having them separate. Also, transcoding and recording options seem a bit limited and goofy right now. They also didn’t update the Remote Wonder to support the new HDTV functionality so the button are the same and there’s no specific button to start the DTV app unless you program one in.

Well, I’m just wondering if the HDTV Wonder will be relegated to crappy software and support like the TV Wonder products have been plagued by. It does seem to fall into a similar product line. Just hope it doesn't suffer the same fate since this is basically a “high-end TV Wonder” cause it looks like they can’t even integrate an HDTV tuner onto an AIW card right now due to the size and interference issues. Perhaps that will change in the future.

I'll probably wait for a 2nd generation/revision of the HDTV Wonder for them to work out some "first try" issues.

fanbanlo Jun 23, 2004 12:21 AM


Originally posted by Liuke
I'll probably wait for a 2nd generation/revision of the HDTV Wonder for them to work out some "first try" issues.
Haha.. yeah? So, is TVWonder Pro any good? I've herad that it is worse than TVWonder / VE.~!

Someotherdude Jun 23, 2004 12:31 AM


Originally posted by fanbanlo
Haha.. yeah? So, is TVWonder Pro any good? I've herad that it is worse than TVWonder / VE.~!
I had a TV wonder pci and then upgraded to the Wonder pro. The picture quality is definitely better, and as long as I stick with mmc 8.2, everything worked. So yes, it's an improvement.

Shock-n-Awe Jun 23, 2004 02:46 PM

200 bucks is higher than i expected it to be.

i skimmed over the reviews,and wonder if anyone can answer this.

the pics show only an S-video out, wtf?

or will i be able to use the DVI to component dongle on my 9600, to get HD out to my TV?

i have cable now and i like it and im not going to drop it anytime soon,

im just asking this for people who might be in the market for an hdtv .
would they be able to skip over the set top box, and still get the same quality though component, while savng a few bucks?

or will s-video be the best they can get?

if the s-video is it, that sucks fat goats:(

Liuke Jun 23, 2004 02:54 PM

From what I could gather in the reviews, the outputs on the HDTV Wonder are like most of the current AIW's. It has the purple colored connector that attaches to ATI's purple breakout box which gives you S-Video, composite, and stereo outputs. Looks like they haven't updated the breakout box. Not sure if they can either, but yeah that's another disappointment I didn't think about. :(

fanbanlo Jun 23, 2004 08:31 PM


Originally posted by Shock-n-Awe
would they be able to skip over the set top box, and still get the same quality though component, while savng a few bucks?

or will s-video be the best they can get?

1. no. channels through "set top box" are encoded, HDTVWonder can't decode those.
2. should be able to use component out or DVI in your Radeon 9500+...

PGHammer Jun 23, 2004 09:45 PM


Originally posted by rbV5
Thanks for the heads up!

OTA ATSC only, so I guess that puts the cable\sat box support issue to rest.
*No EPG for the HD :(

I hope thats incorrect.

I guess it captures using ATI VCR, and then you transcode to MPEG-2 for HD resolution..(so much for proprietary file format) I guess through the library applet. I was hoping to transcode directly to WMV HD, but it looks like you'll have to run MPEG-2 through WME.

Nice review, does clear up some things. Unless I missed it, I didn't see any info on system requirements or CPU load while viewing/timeshifting/recording which would have been nice.

Since it ties in to MMC (albeit as a separate application), why wouldn't it support the same encoding options ATI TV does today (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WinMedia, etc.)?

Payne3d Jun 24, 2004 12:42 AM

I was wondering -- will there be an all-in-wonder card with these OTA HDTV capabilities?

ShiningArcanine Jun 24, 2004 03:03 PM


Originally posted by rbV5
I'm making assumptions here btw:) It works differently, according to the reviews I saw timeshifting is "always" enabled. Since the transport stream must use the PCI bus, I'm assuming that the transport stream must be transcoding to ATI VCR on the fly. Since the transport stream itself is a superset of MPEG-2, this transcoding doesn't require much processing. Apparently, for whatever reason, this must be why you can't capture the transport stream directly...it never makes it to the hardrive.

All the VCR files go to the library, which appears to be your only access to the files? Thats where you transcode the files from and burn to DVDR/CDR from as well. So it looks to me that you don't have access to the PVR application, or capture presets...its cap to ATI VCR always...transcode from the library for ATSC.

Since it transcodes full HD resolution to MPEG-2, that leaves open encoding using the codec/encoder of your choice. Transcoding directly to HD WMV 1080p or 720p faster than real-time would be great, I'm just not sure its possible without serious hardware assist.

Faster than real time encoding into HD WMV 1080p would be sweet. While they are at it, maybe they could add in faster than realtime 24bit 5.1 WMA encoding as well. :D

Edit: I just remembered that ATI said that they would need Microsoft to update Windows in order for them to accelerate WMV. Time to go submit a product suggestion to Microsoft...

SciDoctor Jun 24, 2004 05:15 PM

The purple breakout box is for audio and video capture (via theatre 200! chip) and NOT output .

Video output is via your graphics card , preferably ATI with component , svhs and d-sub or dvi-i , depending on cards specification.

Liuke Jun 25, 2004 04:58 AM

Oops! I knew that. Somehow I got them reversed when talking about it. Silly me! :lol:

doctj Jun 25, 2004 05:44 PM

HDTV wonder tunes OTA what does unencrypted QAM HDTV offer over the OTA? The Fusion card is supposed to do this but aren't the unencrypted QAM channels the same as OTA?

Hyrax Jun 27, 2004 01:11 AM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion
I am definately getting this when it comes out. But, What to do with my AIW??? :D :confused:

HDTVGuru Jun 28, 2004 01:54 AM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion

Originally Posted by doctj
HDTV wonder tunes OTA what does unencrypted QAM HDTV offer over the OTA? The Fusion card is supposed to do this but aren't the unencrypted QAM channels the same as OTA?

Except for the additional channels possible.

Or the cost and complexity of HDTV OTA Antennas....remember the good old days before CATV where your house had a huge antenna and a rotator to point it toward the station you wanted to watch?

Or for the multipath reflections which are much more prevalent in urban areas for OTA HDTV, and while theoretically less critical are , in practice, more critical due to the difference in signal levels between good stations as well as between reflections of the same station...inadequate multipath rejection capability in inexpensive tuner systems.

QAM PC HDTV is the Holy Grail for the success of these sort of cards.

HDTVGuru Jun 28, 2004 12:12 PM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion
Yes, but for folks who live in an area where the signals originate from substantially different directions, they will need a rotator.

Obviously, Forest Grove enjoys what amounts to a pretty unanimous line of sight to the stations broadcasting from the Portland West Hills where all the local HDTV signals originate. You're lucky.

This is just not the case in places like Dallas, Los Angeles or the surrounding areas, and numerous other large metro areas, or even Manhattan(where multipath reflections are horrid and will only get worse when transmission power is ramped up to coincide with the reduction in Analog broadcast)

Right now, most HDTV signals are not broadcast at the full FCC Authorized signal strength. Even countering for vastly different maximum signal strengths between any number of unique stations as well as the independent levels for any particular station causes enough of a problem as we see from much of the pioneering work done with several cards over at www.avsforum.com.

And again, while the chipsets are good in these PC Tuners, the rest of the circuitry is not nearly as robust as that in HDTV Television Receivers for multipath rejection, mostly due to power availability and circuit board real-estate.

Surely, it will get better as HDTV matures in common use, but for now, good antennas and the ability to aim them is very important for the majority of HDTV viewers who want HDTV reception as stable and predictable as they are used to with Analog. (Those that remember OTA NTSC anyway, so few not equipped with CATV or Satellite these days)

As usual, I will likely be one of the "early adopters" of PC HDTV (not as early as many, of course), but I sure look forward to the time when PC HDTV is as easy, robust and reliable as Digital Cable Ready / CableCARD Television seems to be from Cable Labs certification testing results.

Pitseleh Jun 28, 2004 12:21 PM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion
Okay, so I'm a noob at the whole Pc-Tv tuning business. I'm going to be buying a completely new system (939 socket, X800XT, 2gigs ram, pretty much a gaming/media center) at the end of summer and this is really attractive, but I have a few questions.

1) Would a flat screen monitor offer digital tv output I.E. will my samsung SyncMasterTM 710T-Black be able to produce HDTV, or atleast high quality digital resolutions?

2) Will the card interfere with my X800XTPE?

doctj Jun 28, 2004 02:29 PM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion

Originally Posted by HDTVGuru
Except for the additional channels possible.

Or the cost and complexity of HDTV OTA Antennas....remember the good old days before CATV where your house had a huge antenna and a rotator to point it toward the station you wanted to watch?

Or for the multipath reflections which are much more prevalent in urban areas for OTA HDTV, and while theoretically less critical are , in practice, more critical due to the difference in signal levels between good stations as well as between reflections of the same station...inadequate multipath rejection capability in inexpensive tuner systems.

QAM PC HDTV is the Holy Grail for the success of these sort of cards.

My question is what is available on unencrypted QAM that I can't get on OTA? Is ESPN HD unencrypted for example or CNN?

Hyrax Jun 28, 2004 03:06 PM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion

Originally Posted by Pitseleh
1) Would a flat screen monitor offer digital tv output I.E. will my samsung SyncMasterTM 710T-Black be able to produce HDTV, or atleast high quality digital resolutions?

2) Will the card interfere with my X800XTPE?

For #1, it depends on the resolution of the monitor. My monitor only goes as high as 1020x768 or something like that. So If i receive something like a (1980i)? resolution, it will adjust to my monitor size, which would ultimately make the picture sharper.

(when taking pictures with my digital camera, pictures shrunk from a resolution like 2040x???, to my monitor size looks much better than a picture taken at my monitor size. )


There should be no interferance with any videocard. ATI does reccomend a 9500+ videocard. And i think a 1.3+ gightz processor.

Pitseleh Jun 28, 2004 09:18 PM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion
Thats fantastic! I'm pretty much sold on this product, although I have one more question about the whole process.. and it may be a dumb question, just bear with me.

Cable in the wall --> Cable Box HDTV reciever --> all in wonder hdtv --> computer.


HDTVGuru Jun 29, 2004 12:48 AM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion

Originally Posted by Pitseleh
Cable in the wall --> Cable Box HDTV reciever --> all in wonder hdtv --> computer.

But close.

First, HDTV is really a consumer electronics term. Your PC display is really "Super-HDTV" capable already. A resolution of 1600x1200 at 95hz is attainable by most current video cards and monitors (LCDs are usually 1280x1024 until they are bigger than 19"), and even just 1280x1024 essentially matches 1080 resolution, exceeding it in refresh rate because your PC is not interlaced, but rather progressive scan. 1280x1024 60hz on a PC pretty much matches 1080p, and only a few 1080p HDTVs are even available. 1280x1024 at 95hz can thus easily display 1080i or 1080p.
Set your PC at 1600x1200 95hz and your display is well beyond the best HDTV content available. And your video card may even have a choice of resolutions like 1280x1080 to match the HDTV line count. If not, applications like Powerchute can create custom resolutions.

Then, of course, is the necessity to get HDTV content in its raw TS format into the PC in the first place. Even most DVDs are only 480i/p or 720i/p at best, so even 1024x768 resolution exceeds the DVD resolution and the DVD must be upscaled to fill the screen. (simplified, as there are various 4:3 vs. 16:9 proportioning issues)

And not all HDTV broadcasters send 1080i. Some send 720i/p. And some send 16:9 while others send 4:3. While your Digital STB can tune all these, there is no guarantee that this is what is sent to the television, as that relies on the outputs available on the STB and the inputs available on the TV and ultimately, the interoperability and compatability of both together.

Pretty complicated to figure out the best way to fill a TV screen proportionally while simultaneously scaling the picture to match the best resolution of the display.

And like Laptops, non-CRT HDTVs (LCD, DLP, Plasma) have a defined resolution based upon the exact number of pixels on the screen in rows and columns, so you always want to have the TV working at that optimum resolution, scaling the data to fit.

With CRTs, it's much easier to smoothly display various resolutions, as while one may be called "optimum", the display of others is not so detrimental to the appearance. This is why your CRT Monitor looks smooth from 640x480 all the way to its maximum while a 1280x1024 LCD looks blocky at any reduced resolution.

So, as long as you have a good video card and monitor (LCD or CRT) of at least 1280x1024, your PC can display HDTV quite well so long as you have the appropriate playback app.

Now, if you use your PC to supply the signal to a HDTV, your video card needs to be able to output a resolution and refresh the TV can accomodate. If by Svideo, Composite or even VGA, it's an analog signal and while VGA may exceed the digital source resolution, it is not Digital HDTV, it is digital transcoded to analog and upscaled to fill the screen.
If your video card has a DVI-Out port, it is sending a digital signal to the HDTV. Obviously, this is preferable, but it still requires that your video card output a signal that is compatible with what the HDTV can accept.

Set Top Boxes (STBs) also vary in how they connect to the HDTV. Recall that no matter how you slice it, Composite and SVideo are analog signals. DVI and FireWire are digital.

According to the reviews, the dongle connection on HDTVWonder supports just SVideo and Composite, so there is no reason to input your STB Output into the HDTV Wonder if you have any other SVideo or Composite input like on a regular TV Capture or multimedia video card like an ATI.

Basically, what comes out of your STB isn't HDTV any more...it's analog (Unless you output digital video on FireWire).

So if you have digital cable or Dish/DTV already, there is no reason to get a HDTV Wonder as all it will do for $200 + antenna is tune the local OTA HDTV channels you already get on Cable/Sat. That's a pretty expensive capture card.

There is no need to "tune" on the PC like you do when you set a TV on Ch3 or Ch4 and tune with the VCR, thus the tuning features of the HDTVWonder are redundant.

What you need is simply video-in on the PC which can be obtained for $40 with a simple capture card or an integrated solution like an AIW.

Cable in wall
Digital CATV STB
-firewire out to PC firewire delivers digital signal
-Composite or SVideo out to PC Composite or SVideo in delivers Analog TV

Now when the HDTV card makers create Digital Cable Ready HDTV Tuners, you will plug the cable from the wall straight to the PC and let the card replace the STB. Just like you can do with analog TV and a tuner card or AIW right now.
At this point, it will also be necessary to have some sort of device that allows the descrambling of encrypted Digital channels, which for new DCReady televisions is called CableCARD (by Cable Labs, though individual manufacturers or cable companies may have their own brand name for the technology)

Make sense?

It's confusing...don't be embarassed. Too many of the terms being used are ambiguous or have multiple meanings depending upon how they are used and what equipment is being referred to.

The hardest thing is bridging the concept between the worlds of computers and consumer electronics.

And finally, the best results are obtained by using the most capable equipment to keep the signal in its original Digital format as long as possible, minimizing A-D and D-A conversions or any scaling of the data.

Fun, huh?

HDTVGuru Jun 29, 2004 01:29 AM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion

Originally Posted by doctj
My question is what is available on unencrypted QAM that I can't get on OTA? Is ESPN HD unencrypted for example or CNN?

Well, the most likely final configuration for CATV providers is to provide a digital equivalent to "Basic Cable" or "Extended Basic Cable", where a certain block of channels are left unencrypted.

So it's hard to imagine how you'd ever have LESS choice or WORSE reception with unencryped QAM than you do with OTA HDTV.

This is exactly what is happening in some places, while in other cities the CATV folks encrypt everything. Thus I concede the IMMEDIATE situation does not make QAM superior, but it is extremely likely the future result will be so.

So if your choice was 6 HDTV channels on cable or some or all of these same 1,2,3,4,5, or 6 channels via OTA Broadcast, which one do you think would be the more clear signal? Cable, of course.

Bring out an acceptable decryption device and you have your ESPN and CNN. Obviously not immediate, but without QAM tuning, you would never have this capability. Early generation QAM provides added future growth potential. Yes, it's something of a gamble to take first-generation gear and bet on future compatability, but we do that all the time as "Early Adopters" of hi-tech gear. It's up to you to take the risk or not.

And just like Analog cable used to be (before all the premium channels were moved to Digital), the CATV company can descramble any time they like to offer "Free Preview Weekends" of HBO, Cinemax, Showtime etc. Scrambling can be applied on a channel-by-channel basis, or as a block of channels using the same algorithm/key.

At some point, all the CATV providers would like to drop analog transmission altogether and use digital exclusively, moving all the current analog channels to digital. Because most people have cable-ready TVs and would need STBs again, this is not immediately possible; sort of regressing to the early days of analog cable when you tuned to Channel 3 on the TV and used the STB....not a preferred situation. So the transition will take years as people either buy ATSC TVs or accept using digital STBs.

CATV needs to transition the majority of their Basic and Extended Basic customers to Digital Service over this time. Then they can pull the plug on Analog without creating much of a fuss, having to upgrade only the remaining few. If CATV manages this effort, it will maximize the revenue from both Digital Service and Digital STB rental. A smart customer would buy a Digital Cable Ready TV though. This way, CATV would have no way of knowing if you are receiving analog or digital, making the surcharge difficult. And if you do subscribe to Digital to get more than Analog + unencrypted QAM, you also save the STB rental fee.

The CATV folks are experimenting with various revenue models while they install the head-end equipment to process CableCARD validation. The question is: "Do we create a CCard config for every individual receiver, or do we create a basic config that is the same for everybody, only those with Premium Channel access needing user-specific customization. This way, a new subscriber of DC could be installed without admin support...great for those who do most installs via contractors instead of CATV Co. employees. CATV only becomes involved again if premium services are ordered.

In such an arrangement, all the local channels would be unscrambled and when you get Digital Cable, the installer would give you a CableCARD right out of his truck for either Basic Digital or Extended Digital. Flat rate, no programming required...a labor saving measure. For those who choose premium channels, the programming will occur after the install via another contact with the CATV co to activate.

In the end, I do believe it will be a long time before we see native QAM tuning of encrypted channels on the PC.

But I still want to have my PC function in the Digital world like it did in the Analog.

I bring 200+ channels into my home with Cable, and folks with Dish/DTV do the same.

I want to see these on the computer at the same resolution as I do on the TV, and that means either direct QAM tuning for cable, a sat receiver for Dish/DTV, or something better than Composite/SVideo out on external tuners.

Of course, external tuners mean the mess of IR Blasting wires and the blaster programming and config. Aggrevation. Even if FireWire, USB, HDCP/HDMI, Component Video all work. Aggrevation.

Let's see native tuning of digital cable in the PC. It's the only solution that truly minimizes all of the rest of the complicating factors.

Maybe once the CATV people get their CableCARD gear installed (for instance most of the entire Comcast network does not have functional CC head-end equipment installed in the first palce) somebody will come up with an acceptable dongle, USB module or PCI card to use in PCs which would make QAM tuning a reality. A simple watermarking based on CC serial registration would be an acceptable deterrent to casual piracy.

HDTVGuru Jun 29, 2004 02:13 AM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion

Originally Posted by rbV5
Or just turn the antenna on top of your set :rolleyes: Hello, OTA HD is a free broadcast,

Great if it works for you.

For the majority of people in this country who do not have line-of-sight from their home to 3 or 4 HDTV antennas co-located on a mountaintop 1000'+ above every other structure or hill within 75 miles, this isn't the case.

Read about the rest of the country where people are spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars to erect big VHF antennas with towers and rotators in an attempt to gain unreflected, line-of-sight OTA HDTV.

Most folks gave up playing with the TV antenna back in the 1970s though.

Top quality antennas aren't free, and they take a while to amortize against a few extra dollars per month on the cable bill most people probably already have. A few essentially insignificant dollars, as most folks who drop $10,000+ on their home theatre don't whine about $60/mo for cable.

I would imagine the "videophile" who finds cable signals "crappy" would likewise find something lacking in "crappy" OTA reception due to a less than optimum antenna. (remove comment about historic behavior of my best buddy at Rage3d)

Likewise, I'd find it difficult to convince most people who pay thousands to install Home Theatres that everything is integrated and "oh, by the way, if you want to watch HDTV, you gotta tweak the rabbit ears over on the TV".

I'm sure you're perfectly happy with your current configuration, but you seem in denial of, and simply contrary to the facts surrounding HDTV for the majority of people in the US who do not share your microcosm of location, knowledge and threshhold of acceptance of inconvenience.

If you want HDTV to perform in a manner acceptable to a customer who commissions a Home Theatre integrator to build their home system, popping a set of bunny ears on top of the plasma screen just isn't going to cut it. Nor is having a Superbowl party 4 hours after the game starts because you gotta wait for the PC to spit out a DVD in order to watch the game on the HDTV.

I expected one who recently was preaching the superiority of Sage and/or Snapstream would think seamless integration, compatability and convergence were important, but apparently it's just whatever configuration you currently have that's best.

Have fun with your computer, but show a little tolerance for those who believe "convergence" really means something and are working to make all these irritations invisible to the consumer. Educating people to the complexities and pitfalls is part of the process, whether you are affected or not. Only through such efforts will HDTV and all the supporting technologies genuinely mature.


HDTVGuru Jun 29, 2004 02:38 PM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion

Originally Posted by rbV5
Digital Cable signal quality is abysmal from nearly any objective view. I'm not talking HD here, I'm talking Digital Cable. Digital Cable is not digital TV. What do you think happens to Picture Quality when you cram 200+ channels into the same bandwidth that 30 channels used to occupy? <hint> it doesn't get better. Digital Cable serves only for the provider to keep premium services from being pirated and to offer a huge array of programming...its not better, its more...more money for them..less quality for you.

By which "objective" method? Try "subjective"

200+ digital channels fit easily within the bandwidth, even alongside the analog which remain. They don't interfere but are carried simultaneously, similar to voice and DSL by the telco. You would probably also claim DWDM on fiber sucks because you don't like the different colors of light.

Go visit your local CATV Head-end plant. (It's on 173rd off Cornell, by the way.) Arrange a tour and you can learn a lot about CATV.


Originally Posted by rbV5
System integrator? Reaching a little are we? I said "COULD'..get off the rabbit ears already :nuts: I've watched the last 2 Superbowls in HD "Live" No rabbit ears on my Widescreen...why do YOU think I couldn't do that if you would have had an HDTV Wonder instead of my MyHD PC HD card in my setup?

Nobody said anything about you being unable to watch tv with a HDTVWonder instead of your MyHD. (removed comment about possible method of acquiring free HDTVWonder) The only issue I have with ATI and the HDTVWonder is that they are a far more capable company than this card demonstrates and every review so far seems to express some degree of surprise that the card doesn't offer anything more than MyHD, Fusion and the rest have offered for 3+ years already. (no HD or Component-in, no native TS, no QAM etc.) ATI is capable of producing a much better card and consumers ought not be fooled into thinking this "new" card is some giant step beyond its peers, or that HDTV on the PC is a new ATI invention.

The HDTVWonder is a solid OTA tuner, and the familiar nature of its operation will appeal to many. ATIs advertising dollars will contribute greatly to a marketplace acceptance of PC HDTV, and this is good. But since the great majority of HDTV viewers do so through CATV or Sat and are used to ALL the channels, those who have built up unrealistic expectations because of the hype will be disappointed.

Right now, instead of ANY HDTV tuner card for a PC, FireWire from a STB (or Sat tuner if available) is the best way to get Digital/HDTV into the PC. The only drawback (besides getting your paws on a working box) is IR Blasting.

DRM is the real stumbling block though. Every other technical aspect of HDTV on the PC is either solved, or ready to be, pending DRM. Nothing will prevent casual copying, and until the RIAA/MPAA/Studios/Lawyers accept that, DRM will stifle innovation. Only DRM concerns over the PCI Bus keep tuner card makers from offering QAM-tuning HDTV cards and CableCARD daughter-cards or dongles.


Originally Posted by rbV5
in fact HTPC's as a rule of thumb are not user friendly, difficult to setup and basically a PITA.

Hmmm...my 4-year old has mastered MCE. (removed reference to skill level) Isn't the whole idea to explore ways of making things easier rather than discarding them when they prove difficult?


Originally Posted by rbV5
sorry I offend you..but too damn bad. Don't respond to my posts then.

You don't offend me. You amuse me. Not once have I said your experiences are invalid, just that there is more to ubiqutous HDTV on the PC or via the PC than meets the eye. It isn't a slam-dunk for many people, and by discussing many of the pitfalls, techniques and clarifying expectations, other folks can figure out whether to invest in HDTV gear now or not, and if so, what to expect and how to proceed. (removed reference to magnitude of accomplishment)


Originally Posted by rbV5
Personally, I find your little rants about AIW and MCE, and ATI and MCE and HDTV Wonder and crappy OTA support...blah blah blah to be boorish and whiney .

Obviously you have taken catalyst tinkering beyond software testing and used it to replace something missing from your personality.

I've never said AIWs are crappy. In fact I own several and find them great devices. However, they are based upon technical decisions made 5-6 years or more ago. ATI needs to spend R&D on the multimedia side to keep innovation and improvement going as far and fast as the guys on the graphics side, both HW and SW.

I do believe ATI missed the boat on MCE, and whether YOU like it or not, MCE features will be the default on Windows PCs within a couple years. By then, I bet you (reworded reference to living arrangements) try MCE if only because it's hard to avoid. And unless ATI changes track, (change PC ownership from individual to generic) that MCE PC won't have ATI inside.

Back to ATI...if in 2 years 75% of new Windows PCs contain MCE capabilities and ATI has no single-card solution that co-exists with typical additional HW and SW, it will be damaging to their revenues. Their current poor to non-existant showing in the MCE marketplace is not a confidence-booster. The OEM market has spoken, and it went elsewhere, even in cases where they chose ATI for graphics, avoiding available (and highly "pushed")ATI tuners altogether. Few buyers would intentionally spec out purchases involving more vendors than necessary unless there was a compelling reason.

As a long-term ATI enthusiast, I keep hoping they have something really "cool" and really capable up their sleeves. I would be an early purchaser in such case. Just now I have little reason to consider ATI in the HTPC tuner market. For plain video cards, they have been the superior vendor for the last couple years and the new offerings look likewise top-notch. But I cannot, in good faith, foist MMC upon a homeowner who wants a HTPC as a component of their home theatre.

And, yes, an off-the shelf MCE PC CAN be used directly in a successful HTPC installation with little more customization necessary than plugging a few wires and teaching MCE Remote commands to the Universal Remote.


Originally Posted by rbV5
Obviously, ATI's components target a different user than yourself...get over it already.

Obviously you are wrong yet again. I have purchased and specified purchase of ATI offerings for years, to include embedded devices and chipsets. I know what they offer.


HDTVGuru Jun 29, 2004 10:09 PM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion
From Pitseleh:
(for some reason I got the post notification, but your message didn't show in the thread...)


Okay here is the deal. I just want to watch my cable tv aswell as use my pc at the same time. I thought the AIW HDTV would allow me to watch all stations provided through my cable box aswell as tune into HDTV channels. Was I completely wrong? I just dont have a lot of space and want both of them through one screen, with of couse, tivo functionality.

Now you got it.

If you'll reply to include what PC config you have (Video card, capture card, tuner, Windows version etc.?) and what cable equipment/service (analog or digital? STB has what outputs available?) you have, I can help detail what would be the easiest way to achieve your goal. Other folks here have a lot of good input too, including experience with BeyondTV (I use MCE).

To describe some options dependent upon your particular equipment or service:

The HGTVWonder does provide inputs from the STB or another video source you can use if you do not have other capture devices or inputs on your video card, or in addition to other input points. If you have an AIW and a HDTVW (or plain TVWonder), you will get PIP too.

And the HDTVW allows tuning of the local OTA HDTV stations. It just doesn't bring into the PC Digital Cable in hi-resolution because the inputs are just composite or svideo analog. Basically down-sampled. To get Digital Cable into your PC in Digital format, you need a STB with FireWire out and FireWire input on the PC.

The MMC software does provide Tivo-like functionality which works pretty darn well, including a multitude of file type choices for recording from suitable for PDAs to almost-pure TS (LARGE files).

The only shortcoming I can see is that the Guide+ for the ATI card only tunes the card and won't provide support for the digital cable channels. (The new RemoteWonder2 -not included with HDTVW- is supposed to support IR Blasting, but I haven't seen this in use yet) So Guide+ will display your local channels on analog cable and its HDTV counterpart will provide OTA HDTV listings. (I don't think it is integrated as one large guide at this point like some other PVR apps offer)

I do believe, however, that by splitting your cable coax and connecting to the HDTVW, you will be able to directly tune the Analog channels, and the guide will work for them. Just won't tune Digital Cable channels.

If you have Digital Cable, and it includes the same HDTV channels you would get OTA with a HDTVW, I believe I would skip the HDTVW and just get a good quality capture card, or even an AIW. (the video card output is still important to drive your TV display device and the ATI cards have particularly good DVI output as well as good composite/svideo out)

If you have Analog cable, the HDTVW is a good choice to gain those added channels.

With this, you could choose an app like BeyondTV which has a Guide applet that should allow you to IR Blast your Digital or Analog STB and pretty much automate all the available channels on the STB from the PC. (recall your PC tuner will not tune encrypted analog or digital channels...you need the STB)

SciDoctor Jun 30, 2004 05:36 AM

Re: HDTV Wonder Discussion
HDTVGuru and rbV5 please take your discussion to PM.

This is not the place to debate semantics .

Please keep to the topic and not a constant rebuttal of each others posts ; this is not an OT thread.

Both of you have points which are valid within the context of the thread and the discussion.

Please modify your offending posts or delete them.

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